Exploring the Planets

The planetary explorations of John D. Reinhart

Pluto’s Little Moons

Just because Pluto got booted from the Major League Planetary Club, that doesn’t mean she can’t offer up some fantastic surprises. An atmosphere… did you know Pluto has an atmosphere? … Continue reading

July 28, 2015 · Leave a comment

The Space Program Just Re-Invented Itself

In case you missed it, the Orion spacecraft made a spot-on splashdown in the Pacific on December 5. It seems kind of old-school now, splashing down in the sea like the … Continue reading

December 9, 2014 · Leave a comment

How Jupiter Trashed Mars

In the early days, the solar system was a pretty rough-and-tumble kind of place, a kill-or-be-killed planetary schoolyard where only the tough survived. Ask Mars, robbed and kicked to the … Continue reading

November 25, 2014 · Leave a comment

Ceres, the Celestial Crime Victim

Tiny Ceres, the sun’s closest dwarf planet, continues to straddle the line between asteroid and planet. But, say what you will, the evidence shows that the tiny planet was ripped off. … Continue reading

November 6, 2014 · Leave a comment

Rainfall from Enceladus

The Saturn moon system is one bizarre place. Epimetheus and Janus exchange orbits once every four years. Mimas has an epically huge impact crater on one side and long, deep … Continue reading

October 23, 2014 · Leave a comment

Pluto, Queen of the Minor League

Pluto has some good stuff going for it. It’s pretty big, being about two thirds the size of our moon. It’s the object with the second highest contrast in the … Continue reading

October 11, 2014 · Leave a comment

Water Vapor Discovered on Exoplanet

A miraculous combination of clear skies and powerful telescopes have joined up to lead to this newest discovery in the hunt for life-bearing planets: water vapor and clear skies on … Continue reading

October 8, 2014 · Leave a comment

Earth-Sized Exoplanet Discovered

The Kepler space telescope has provided data that makes a huge leap forward in the searched for habitable planets: the first-ever discovery of an Earth-size planet in the Goldilocks zone … Continue reading

April 27, 2014 · Leave a comment

An Exoplanetary Tug of War

Not all stars are like our sun. Some are bigger, some are smaller, and many travel through the heavens with a companion in what’s called a binary system.  Binary systems … Continue reading

February 19, 2014 · Leave a comment

Mr. Kepler Reenters the Room

The search for exoplanets requires a number of sophisticated tools, but none is more advanced, or sophistiated than the Kepler space telescope. Focusing its telescopic eye on distant suns, Kepler … Continue reading

February 18, 2014 · Leave a comment
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